Well I can't seem to pick a single pairing to write, and I have really been meaning to get to Hermione/Narcissa story. The general warnings apply. I don't own these awesome characters, thats our queen JK. As a result, my versions of these wonderful women will be different to suit my own tastes and purposes for a bit of fun, so a bit OOC. We will eventually transverse into mature content though not just yet.
We pick up towards the end of the Death Hallows and then will stray away from the canon.
Rain turns the sand into mud
Wind turns the trees into bone
Stars turning high up above
You turn me into somebody loved
"Somebody Loved" The Weepies
Hermione had intentionally not spent time thinking about what the Final Battle would be like. She could feel adrenaline in every cell of her body. She was exhausted and couldn't stop coughing. Her lungs were filled with the stench of smoke and corpses. And yet, she pushed on. She had parted ways with both Harry and Ron a while back. She only had a fuzzy sense of time, but she carried a sense of hope. They were down to just Voldemort and the snake. They had overcome so many… challenges that this seemed doable. Before stepping back into the Great Hall, she took two deep breaths and stretched out her wand arm getting ready for the fire fight she knew to be raging inside.
In the room, it was as bad as she had imagined and perhaps then some. The Death Eaters for their ragged appearances were rather good duelists. As she watched Bellatrix Lestrange easily cut down a young student, she knew that she had to step in. Fortunately for her a rather brash redhead had the same thought at the same moment. Together they delivered a barrage of what they thought were impressive offensive spells. Disappointingly the dark witch batted them away as though they were nothing. The menacing smile with which they were dispatched caused a painful shudder to travel down the length of Hermione's spine. She felt panic rising through her body and found that her mind was blank. She could not think of a single defensive spell. She blinked trying to clear her mind. In the fraction of a second that her eyes were closed, she was transported back in her mind to the floor of Malfoy Manor. The demonic witch was leaned over her cackling evilly and inflicting pain. It was Hermione's own personal hell. She snapped her eyes open, but could not escape the nightmare. Over the sound of her own memories, she faintly heard the words Avada Kedavra. The irony of the fact that she survived torture by his most loyal follower to escape only to die by the witch's wand in the end did not escape her. She closed her eyes accepting her fate, sorry that her last moments were consumed by the memory of when Mudblood was brutally carved into her arm.
She was jolted from her self pity by a hard landing. She opened her eyes, but could see nothing in the absolute darkness of wherever she was. Feeling utterly alone, she whimpered in a mixture of pain and desperation.
Narcissa Malfoy, though she had every intention of once again becoming Black, had finally arrived home to the Manor with her son in tow. It had been a trying few years since the Dark Lord had come back from the dead. And then her sister returned. An additional trial. There was a small piece of familial love that could never entirely be erased from her heart, but the woman was completely unhinged. She was unruly before prison, but afterwards it was clear that her mind was irreparably damaged. Bellatrix was unreasonably cruel and impossible to reign in. The blonde knew she would cry at her sister's grave when it was all said and done. She would even feel a touch of guilt.
The price of her own freedom and that of her only son's was her worthless husband and her deranged sister. In what she would describe as true Slytherin fashion, she had struck a last minute deal with Kingsley, who would any minute now be declared the interim Minister of Magic. After the escape of the teens from Malfoy Manor, extreme chaos broke out. Enough that she could get a message to him requesting a parlay. He agreed and they met high in the hills of Scotland. In exchange for being considered a member of the light, she told him everything she knew that was being planned and agreed to do anything in her power to keep the three teens alive. After all, though her son was a bully, he hadn't managed to kill anyone. Nor would he, if she had anything to do with it.
Fortune had shone brightly on her since then. Her intelligence led to the Order easily breaching the walls of the castle to assist in the battle. And she had single handedly saved the Potter boy and gotten away with it scot-free. Then she even found her son safe and largely unharmed. So at the door of the castle, she left her husband, only in name, in the capable hands of an auror. Without so much as a glance back, she and Draco walked away from it all. When the dust cleared and after the Order triumphed, the two would be presented as spies for the light and cleared of all charges. They would be required to testify against Lucius and Bellatrix provided they both survived. The blonde certainly would. It did seem to be his most prominent skill. However, he would never leave the walls of the magical prison. She suspected she would never be compelled to speak a word publically against her sister. The Death Eater had been captured once, she would die before going back to Azkaban. She and Draco would inherit the entirety of the Malfoy, Black and Lestrange estates, Kingsley would ensure it. She hoped they would have the ability to start over.
She carefully moved her son up the stairs toward his childhood room. She took his coat and encouraged him into a shower. She summoned an elf to bring a sleeping potion. She knew he probably ought to eat, but sleep would do wonders for stabilizing him. He could eat in the morning. After only a few minutes, he emerged again dressed in silk. Compliantly if not emptily he took the potion and laid in the bed. He allowed his mother to soothingly stroke his hair as he fell asleep. It was familiar and safe.
After warding the room to alert her if he woke, she set off for her own chambers to do much the same. She was unwillingly pulled from her thoughts by a loud crash downstairs. She suddenly missed the evil hordes of fighters that kept her from raising her wand with frequency. But her exterior wards hadn't gone off. If they had the elves still in the house were incredibly loyal to her, as she had always treated them more kindly than the rest, would have immediately come to her assistance. She thought of calling them, but it seemed silly over just a noise. She walked down the grand staircase magically lighting torches as she went. The house seemed emptier and more silent than ever before. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she turned towards a familiar room. It served as a headquarter of sorts for a time and then as a torture chamber. She had hoped not to venture back into this part of the house. She had every intention of tearing it down and rebuilding, or at the very least gutting it. There was no amount of paint that could remove such horrors from its walls.
Cautiously she opened the door, listening for any trace of an intruder. She summoned a lumos and then lit the torches of the large empty room. On the farthest side she saw a crumpled body in a sickeningly familiar position. Slowly the blonde walked towards the girl saying,
"Miss Granger. How in Merlin's name did you get here?"
At the sound of the cold tone of her voice, the dirty body attempted to put distance between them though progress was halted by a strangled cry of pain.
In a moment of unusual sympathy not even she understood, Narcissa began again more gently.
"Are you alright?"
The curled up small form had begun convulsing in fear. She could hear there were words being said, but delivered at such a rapid pace and with uneven breathing that she struggled to understand the meaning. The older witch moved slowly as to not add to the fear and leaned close to the girl. The speech still wasn't entirely clear, but she distinctly heard,
"Please. Please save me. She is going to get me. It hurts so much."
Even someone daft would be able to reason that the terrified young woman was referring to Bellatrix, who had tortured her mere days ago in this very location. The babbling morphed into incoherent sobs rendering it obvious to Narcissa that the physical location was hindering the ability to communicate. Unable to think of anything else, she gently took the girl's arm. Hazel eyes opened, as if they had just seen her for the first time.
"Trust me," the blonde whispered to keep her voice from breaking. She closed her own eyes and apperated them into her chambers. She landed the injured girl on the bed. For the first time since the blue eyes caught sight of her, Hermione calmed a fraction though the tears did not stop streaming down her face.
"Lay still. I'm just going to check your wounds. I'm a trained healer," Narcissa said in a voice so like the one she had used to soothe her son a few minute before. With a gentle flick of her wand, it was clear that the girl had a broken leg likely from the fall out of apparition. There were a few other small injuries likely from the battle, but in time they would heal naturally. More concerning was the malnutrition and exhaustion from the months on the run. The blonde placed a soothing hand on her shoulder and snapped the fingers on her other hand. Immediately a female elf appeared.
"Please bring me a pain potion and a sleeping potion." The small elf nodded and disappeared again.
The blonde crouched by the bed so that they would be at eye level.
"You've hurt your leg badly. I need to repair it now or you may have permanent damage. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Hermione whispered through the tears.
"Good. Once you've had the potion, I will cast the spell. I am much better at it than Lockhart was, so please don't worry."
The young woman raised an eyebrow at the comment.
Narcissa chuckled. "Yes, Draco told me about that little adventure. We however will not have a repeat this evening. I am not so incompetent."
"Why what exactly? I can't imagine you are doubting my skill."
Hermione blushed at the haughty tone. She found that she liked the confidence in the woman more than she could explain. "Why are you helping me?"
The blonde smiled internally at the softer tone of the girl. "I suppose word hasn't spread yet. I've been acting on the Order's behalf."
"Harry told me that you saved him. He couldn't imagine why."
"It's complicated, Miss Granger."
"Hermione, please. And I don't mean to pry, I am just rather at your mercy."
"So you are," she replied raising a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.
The elf popped back into the room with two small vials. She handed them over to the blonde with a smile.
"In about 30 minutes, please bring us a light dinner, please." The blue eyes turned back to the young witch. "Drink this. It's a simple pain potion. It will make it possible for me to heal the bone without making you pass out."
Hermione took the bottle and drank it quickly, attempting not to taste it. She sighed as she felt it working through her body. Finally her muscles relaxed. They had been clenched in pain for hours. She watched as Narcissa magically cut off the pant leg and felt nausea rising at the sight of the damage.
"Look up at the ceiling, Hermione. This isn't something you want to see."
The Gryffindor looked at her with fair amount of defiance.
"Do as I ask and I will explain to you my situation."
The hazel eyes searched her face for deception, but eventually gave into the request.
"Good girl," she whispered, gently touching the damaged limb to do a final evaluation. "I never wanted to be a part of this war. Lucius dragged us into it. And I never had a choice about marrying him. I attempted to keep my family as far out of it as possible, but it steadily spiraled out of control." She prepared to do the spell, watching the rise and fall of the young witch's chest. "It had been coming for a long time, but when… you were last in this house I could take no more. I approached Kingsley and offered him the type of information that could turn the tides. He accepted and offered protection for myself and Draco in return. I am well aware that we have reparations yet to pay, but we had to begin somewhere."
"What information did you give?"
While the young witch was speaking, Narcissa executed the spell healing the bone. Hermione was so distracted that she didn't notice it was happening and could feel nothing through the potions she had consumed.
"What the Dark Lord was planning and how to intervene. I also agreed to do anything I could to save the three of you, should a situation arise. I was presented with the opportunity in the forest and I took it. It doesn't make up for the things I've witnessed and not stopped leading up to this, but that is work for another day."
Hermione nodded at the vague apology. It was more than she had ever expected.
"I've completed the spell."
Before Narcissa could complete her thought, Hermione shot up. The blonde placed a firm hand on her shoulder pushing her back.
"I won't have you ruining my hard work. It was not a simple spell. You need to rest and let your body heal."
"You don't understand," she said in a panic. "I have to get back."
"What I understand is that you can't do anything to help in this state. I will send my patronus to Kingsley telling him you are safe and in good care."
"But Harry and Ron."
"Are in good hands," the blonde continued. "There are plans in place to care for them. There will be such chaos there that you would be more of a hindrance than a help. Stay here tonight. Bathe, eat and tomorrow I promise to take you back to the castle."
"I will only agree if you let me watch you cast the patronus."
"Very well," the blonde agreed. She closed her eyes and muttered the word. A glowing otter emerged from the tip of her wand. "Find Kingsley and tell him that I have Hermione Granger safe and recovering at Malfoy Manor. If he needs us, he only has to send word. Go quickly."
The young witch sat stunned with her mouth hanging open.
"Contrary to some of the rumors, Hermione, I am not all bad. I never lost the ability to cast a patronus after I learned."
"So I've been gathering. I'll keep an open mind."
"Thank you. It's more than I deserve. Come now. You are in desperate need of a bath."
"Did you just tease me, Madame Malfoy?" Hermione asked lightly, hoping to steer away from emotionally charged conversations. If she was going to be held here overnight, it would do no good to be unpleasant. After all, the blonde helped turn the tide and Kingsley trusted her.
"I did, Miss Granger. I am going to cast a feather-light charm on your injured leg, because you will need to hold it up. I will help you to the bathroom."
Gingerly she helped the young girl lift herself off the bed ensuring she didn't put weight on the newly healed leg.
"Why are you being so kind to me? Surely an elf could tend to me."
Narcissa turned her head slowly to look into the piercing eyes still attempting to evaluate her motivations. They were so close that they were practically nose to nose. The blonde found the attitude of the witch electrifying. She smiled softly. "No doubt they could. Those who stayed are very loyal to me. However, from the looks of you it has been some time since anyone has shown you kindness, which is something I am rather familiar with. This is what I have to offer."
It was so quiet that if the blonde didn't have attuned hearing that she would have missed the whispered words of thanks. Even said so quietly, there was an underlying sincerity that touched her in ways she hadn't expected. The gasp as they cross the threshold to the bathroom is far louder and Narcissa chuckles in earnest.
"Did you expect any less?"
"No," Hermione breathed out. "Unfortunately, I am beginning to believe that Draco had reasons for his attitude."
"Ah, well my son is… complex. I heard enough about you though. Had certain things been different, I think he would have rather liked to date you."
The blonde sat her down gently on the edge of the bathing pool and the girl descended into giggles.
"I cannot believe I missed the signs. How could I have been so dumb? School yard flirting." She waved a hand emphatically. "It wouldn't have mattered on my end. Afraid he is isn't my type."
Narcissa raised her eyebrow. It was entirely out of character for the young witch to keep speaking, but in her exhaustion she couldn't stop.
"I prefer the fairer sex. Not that Draco isn't an attractive man. I mean…. I've never really thought about it honestly…"
The older witch silenced her with a gentle hand cupping her jaw. "We are much more open about such things in the older magical circles. You will never face judgement from me."
The hazel eyes blinked trying to process the statement, but the older witch already turned away. The pool behind her was filled with water and bubbles.
"The water should be warm enough to be comfortable, but it cannot be hot. That would be bad for the swelling. Do you think you can manage to get in and out by yourself?"
"I think so."
"Don't put any weight on it. Just say my name when you are done. I will set a ward for it. I will have some suitable clothing brought for you."
Without so much as looking back, Narcissa strode out of the room. Hermione started to pull the filthy cloth from her body. She could barely imagine what they looked like originally. She contemplated how oddly the day had turned out. But the one thing she had learned living in the magical world was that almost anything could happen. She found she was surprisingly content to be in the care of the blonde. There was something about her manner that was disarmingly charming. The youngest Black sister was nothing like what she had imagined. She couldn't even justify it to herself, but for the first time in many months she felt safe.
With a soft pop clothing appeared folded in a chair near where she sat. The sudden movement caused her to jolt and nearly fall into the water. She slipped into the suds careful of her leg. As promised, the water was pleasant enough to bathe in. It was particularly luxurious in light of the months of bathing in streams. She washed as thoroughly, but as quickly as she could. There was promise of food and a warm bed, and news. Maneuvering out of the water was tricky, but she managed to only bump her leg uncomfortably a few times. She suppressed the urge to call out, not wanting to trip the wards. After drying, she summoned the clothes left for her into her hands. She was surprised to find that they were soft cotton pajamas. Who knew even pureblood goddesses like Narcissa Malfoy enjoyed comfortable clothing. They fit nicely and when she felt suitably clothed, she looked around the empty room. Hermione hoped she might be able to leave the room under her own power, but just the small bumps had been excruciating.
After a moment a polite knock the bathroom door opened slowly and a blonde head appeared.
"Ready for something to eat?"
"That would be lovely. Thank you."
"Let's get you up then." The blonde gently helped her stand with an arm solidly around her waist.
In the quietness of the walk, the young witch was acutely aware of the heat coming from the other witch's touch. And how much she didn't want it to leave.
"You are going to back to the bed. I want the injury to remain elevated," Narcissa said without any question in her tone.
Once Hermione was settled comfortably propped up against pillows, the blonde set a tray on her lap. The shepherd's pie scent reached her nose and she found it impossible to think of anything else. She ate voraciously. A soft hand touched her wrist.
"Slowly, Hermione. Don't upset your stomach. There will be plenty more. Here," she said attempting to distract her. "I thought you would want to read this instead of being told. It arrived while you were bathing." She handed over a copy of the Daily Prophet.
The young witch took it quickly, attempting to read it all at once. She took in the first page quickly and then flipped quickly to the back. She tried to wipe the tears away without the blonde seeing. Her failure was evident when the tray disappeared and the bed depressed beside her. Arms encircled her. Hermione clung to the fabric of the witch's dress as though the last vestige of comfort might slip away if her hands loosened. She buried her face against a cool neck as sobs wracked her body. Narcissa cooed soothingly, moving her fingers through the still wet hair.
"It's over. And we you said was true. They even recognized your contribution on the front page," the young witch said as her tears subsided. She had yet to move from the warm embrace.
"I have no desire to lie to you."
"Why is that?"
"I… I don't know. I've lived deceiving everyone. It's exhausting. And you. You look at me differently. You see me without judgement, which I know I don't deserve."
"I'm no innocent either, Narcissa," she mumbled against a pale collarbone. "I've done things during this war that I can never forgive myself for."
"What could you have possibly done?"
"Rumors say that you are one of the most skilled legilimens in Great Britain."
"I am," the blonde responded slowly.
"Just look please. I can't… I don't talk about it. This is easier." The young witch closed her eyes and waited for the uncomfortable sensation she had read about. It didn't come, but she became aware of a warm soothing presence soaking into her consciousness. She saw herself in her own memories approaching her parents and erasing herself from their heart clenched at the sight. The image shifted in a swirl of color. She was now crying in Harry's arms. It was the day they got news that even in Australia her parents were ruthlessly hunted down and killed. She felt as Narcissa slowly withdrew from her mind.
A soothing hand brushed away the lone tear running down her cheek and held her still as a kiss was placed on her forehead.
"You had no way of knowing, Hermione. You did the most sensible thing you could think of. I am so very sorry for your loss."
"As I am sorry for yours," she said in a quiet voice.
"Thank you. You are kind. I should let you sleep. It's been a long day." She stood to get off the bed only to be stopped by a hand.
"Narcissa, please don't leave. I don't want to be alone. I know it's an unusual request." Her voice was quiet and shaking from both emotion and anxiety.
"It's quite alright. I would rather not sleep alone either. Let's get you under the covers," the blonde answered sweetly. The older woman gingerly lifted the injured leg to move the blankets and replace them.
"I might not be a good bed mate. I'm not sure if I will be able to fall asleep. We did shifts when we were on the run and mine was always very late."
"How about a bit of a sleeping draught, but not so much that you can't be woken. And someone to keep you safe."
"You saw that part of my thoughts too?" she asked with a touch of fear in her tone.
"I did though I was not looking for it."
"And yet you will share a bed with me?"
The blonde paused her movement to address the question. "I did not say that I found them distasteful."
The young witch sat back up to launch into a speech. One steady hand caught her shoulder and a single finger pressed into her lips.
"Hush now. This isn't the time for such decisions. Drink half of this. We will spend some time getting to know one another."
Hermione took the vial in her hand. "That's not exactly the reaction I was expecting."
"It's nice to have the ability to surprise someone. Drink. I will be back in a moment."
Waiting on Narcissa, the young witch snuggled further into the covers. She wasn't sure if it was the comparison to the tent or reality, but it felt like it was the softest bed she'd ever been in. She was so engrossed in the evaluation of her physical location that she didn't hear the other witch reenter the room.
"I am glad that you find my bed so comfortable. I should hope it is more comfortable than some tent. I didn't mean to snoop, but you were thinking so loudly. I could hear it through the door."
"It's alright," the young woman said. "As tired as I am, I could have been speaking out loud." She felt the bed depress behind her and the warmth of another body. She found it incredibly tempting to be closer to it. "When you found me injured you brought me to your room?"
"You needed safety. It is safe here."
"Thank you." Hermione gasped when slender fingers intertwined with her own.
"Sleep," Narcissa whispered in her ear, soothingly petting her face and hair rhythmically.
"Tomorrow, we will talk. I swear it."